Friday, April 18, 2008

Wis. Supreme Court lets 'shaken baby' ruling stand

By RYAN J. FOLEY – The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A ruling that freed a woman from prison and cast doubt

on "shaken baby syndrome" prosecutions will stand, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has

decided.The decision is a victory for former daycare provider Audrey Edmunds, who

has long maintained her innocence against charges she shook a baby to death in 1995.

Edmunds spent more than 10 years in prison after a jury convicted her of first-

degree reckless homicide in 1996. But she was freed in February after an appeals

court said new research into "shaken baby syndrome" cast doubt on her guilt.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court, saying the ruling

would make it virtually impossible for prosecutors to bring charges in shaken baby


The high court voted 5-1 on Monday not to take up the case and let the ruling stand.

The court did not publicly announce the decision but a spokesman confirmed the vote


Prosecutors in the Dane County District Attorney's office now must decide whether to

retry Edmunds.

Her appellate lawyer, Keith Findley of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said he hoped

prosecutors would drop the charges.

"It's time to let Audrey Edmunds get on with her life," he said.

The appeals court said new research into shaken baby syndrome presents alternate

theories on how 7-month-old Natalie Beard might have suffered fatal injuries while

at Edmunds' in-home day care. It said a jury should hear competing theories and

again decide whether she is guilty.

Edmunds has testified the baby was dropped off at her home in good health but

quickly became fussy. She tried unsuccessfully to console the child and then left

her in a bedroom in a car seat with a propped bottle.

She said she called 911 after finding the baby limp with liquid coming out of her

nose and mouth. The child was pronounced dead hours later.

Prosecutors argue the baby died as a result of violent shaking by Edmunds or shaking

combined with impact that caused a fatal head injury.

Edmunds' lawyers said it is impossible to know how the baby died but it could have

been the result of a seizure, from choking on formula or an infection.

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